People in the throes of addiction sometimes behave in ways that are contrary to social norms. When they lie or steal to get the substance needed to prevent their painful withdrawal symptoms, or when their behavior is aggressive or paranoid because of their substance use, people who know and love them sometimes have difficulty maintaining compassion and sympathy.
On September 14, 2020, the National Institutes of Health released a disturbing report showing that individuals with substance use disorders are more likely to get COVID-19 and suffer more serious complications from it.
Statistically, people are living longer and healthier lives. But the changes both physically and mentally, and even how medications, alcohol, and other substances are processed in the body do occur with aging.
Mental health experts and substance abuse treatment practitioners have long been concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated mitigation activities such as physical distancing and stay-at-home orders would lead to increases in depression, trauma, and substance abuse.
Another thing that can lead to relapse is Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS. PAWS isn’t the same for everyone, with some people experiencing no symptoms of PAWS, while others may have varying symptoms that decrease with time, but can continue for as long as two years.
The American Psychological Association defines trauma as an emotional response, yet we know that our bodies suffer physical symptoms as well. Indeed, a trauma-inducing event can wound all of our systems. It can affect our thought processes, sleep, digestion, immune systems, outlook on life, and how we feel about ourselves and others.
Five Obstacles to Substance Abuse Treatment–Shame is often at the top of the list of reasons people don’t seek help for an addiction problem. Another reason people sometimes don’t go into treatment is that they have feelings of guilt over things they may have done while addicted, as well as guilt over the people they may have hurt.
Remember what you know. Now is the most important time ever to not allow negative or fearful thinking to pull you back toward the rabbit-hole of addiction. Thoughts are not a reality unless you allow them the power to become a reality. Thoughts, in and of themselves, are harmless. It’s the action that can create harm and consequences.